Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss

Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

You might not recognize that there are consequences linked to aspirin, ibuprofen, and other over-the-counter pain relievers according to new studies.

You’ll want to look at the risks to your hearing that many over-the-counter and prescription pain medication pose before you decide to use them. Younger men, amazingly, could carry a higher risk factor.

What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Killers

A thorough, 30-year collaborative study was conducted among researchers from esteemed universities such as Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. A bi-yearly questionnaire was sent to 27,000 participants between the age of 40 and 74 which included health and lifestyle questions.

Because the questionnaire was so broad, researchers were uncertain of what they would find. After looking at the data, they were surprised to find a solid connection between hearing loss and over-the-counter pain relievers.

The data also revealed something even more surprising. Men who are 50 or under who regularly use acetaminophen were almost twice as likely to have loss of hearing. The chance of developing hearing loss is 50/50 for individuals who take aspirin regularly. And there is a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in people who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).

Another unexpected thing that was revealed was that high doses taken occasionally were not as bad for your hearing as low doses taken frequently.

We can’t be certain that the pain reliever actually caused this hearing loss even though we can see a distinct connection. Causation can only be demonstrated with further study. But we really should rethink our use of these pain relievers after these compelling findings.

Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – Current Theories

There are numerous theories as to why pain relievers may result in hearing loss which researchers have come up with.

Your nerves convey the experience of pain to your brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by decreasing the flow of blood to specific nerves. This disrupts nerve signals that normally communicate with the brain, so you feel a reduced pain level.

There might also be a reduction of blood flow to the inner ear according to researchers. Less blood flow means less nutrients and oxygen. Cells will die from undernourishment if this blood flow is reduced for extended periods.

Also, there’s a particular protein that guards the inner ear from loud noises and it seems like acetaminophen, in particular, may block this.

What You Can do?

The most remarkable insight was that men under 50 were the most likely to be affected. This confirms that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. The steps you take when you’re younger can help safeguard your hearing as you age.

While it’s important to note that taking these pain relievers can have some negative consequences, that doesn’t mean you need to entirely stop using them. Use pain medication only when you absolutely need to and when dealing with prescription medication, only as prescribed.

If you can discover alternative solutions you should consider them as a first approach. It would also be a practical idea to increase the Omega-3 fat in your diet and decrease foods that cause inflammation. These methods have been shown to naturally lessen pain and inflammation while enhancing blood flow.

And finally, make an appointment with us for a hearing examination. Don’t forget, hearing tests are for people of all ages. The best time to begin speaking with us about avoiding further hearing loss is when you under 50.